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  1. #1
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    I thought the members of this forum would find our exhange with CJ's "compliance department" to be of interest.

    We are being threatened with account closure and non-payment. Our crime? We drove $75,137 in sales to CJ merchants last month.

    We do this mainly via PPC search engine marketing. (We are on the line for every sale we generate.) CJ's phantom accusations include "inflating traffic", "running an application" and operating a "special incentive program". (all completely false).

    I will say no more, except to say to CJ... Unless you want _all_ your best affiliates to hit the exits for your competition, you need to reel in your Gestapo compliance department.


    [transcript below]
    ------------------

    In accordance with the Commission Junction Publisher Service Agreement, ( http://www.cj.com/pub_agreement.asp ), you are being warned for inflating traffic to one or more of your affiliated advertisers. As a result, your account is under payout review.

    If you are found to be non-compliant during this review period for any reason your account will be deactivated.

    If we receive any additional complaints regarding your account violating the Publisher Service Agreement you will be terminated from the network and will not be allowed to re-join the Commission Junction Network. Any attempt to re-join will be void.

    Your program has also been determined to be a special program, in which case, needs to be properly flagged as such. To remain in the Commission Junction network you must update your account by going to the Account tab and edit your program description. Specifically, answer yes to the incentive question and then provide a detailed description of all your traffic driving methods. In accordance with the Commission Junction Publisher Service Agreement( http://www.cj.com/pub_agreement.asp ), a valid program description is required to operate as an incentive/special program.

    Commission Junction reserves the right, as defined in the Publisher Service Agreement (http://www.cj.com/pub_agreement.asp), to terminate your account within 7 days of this written notice if you do not comply with this request.

    Failure to provide information we are requesting regarding all methods in which you drive traffic to the advertisers you are affiliated with and flag yourself as a Special program will ensure the removal of your account. If you do not provide us with the information we have requested, within 7 business days, the information is inadequate or inaccurate you may be locked out of your account and your commissions will be withheld.

    If you have any questions, please reply to this email.

    Regards,
    Client Services
    Commission Junction

    ----------



    This was a very alarming message. We are being warned for "traffic inflation"? Can you explain what this means?

    You also mention that we are a "special program". My understanding is that a "special program" is one that pays back a portion of revenue to customers. We don't do this and never have. We don't offer incentives. Nothing on our site would suggest otherwise.

    Is it possible we have been mixed up with another affiliate??

    There is certainly a lot of confusion here (at least on this end). I am happy to cooperate however necessary to clear all this up.



    ----------

    Re: Publisher ac#: 203540

    It has come to our attention that you are using a Software Application to refer customers to the CJ Advertisers you have elected to work with.

    This is notification that not compliant with our Code of Conduct (COC) Requirements. Please reply to this message describing in detail how your application generates traffic, the names of the software you have bundled with and where it is distributed to prevent the deactivation of your account.

    Below are specific details regarding the enforcement of the Code of Conduct.

    [...snipped...]
    PUBLISHER CODE OF CONDUCT
    http://cj.com/pub_conduct.jsp

    Your program has also been determined to be a special program, in which case, needs to be properly flagged as such. To remain in the Commission Junction network you must update your account by going to the Account tab and edit your program description. Specifically, answer yes to the incentive question and then provide a detailed description of your program. In accordance with the Commission Junction Publisher Service Agreement( http://www.cj.com/pub_agreement.asp ), a valid program description is required to operate as an incentive/special program.

    Commission Junction reserves the right, as defined in the Publisher Service Agreement (http://www.cj.com/pub_agreement.asp), to terminate your account within 7 days of the original written notice if you do not comply with this request.

    Failure to provide information we are requesting regarding all methods in which you drive traffic to the advertisers you are affiliated with and flag yourself as a Special program will ensure the removal of your account. If you do not provide us with the information we have requested, within 7 business days from the original notice, the information is inadequate or inaccurate you may be locked out of your account and your commissions will be withheld.

    If we receive any additional complaints regarding your account violating the Publisher Service Agreement you will be terminated from the network and will not be allowed to re-join the Commission Junction Network. Any attempt to re-join will be void.


    Regards,
    Client Services
    Commission Junction


    ------------------------------------

    I can fully appreciate that you have special requirements for affiliates that use software applications... However, we are _not_ doing this. We have never done this, and we have no future plans to do this.

    The vast majority of our traffic comes from Search Engines. We test for the best performing merchants at www.savingsfinder.com and we then fund extensive pay-per-click advertising campaigns for those that perform the best.

    If you need a demonstration of this concept, please visit Google and do a search for "blotting paper", "tacking iron" or "dry mounting". These are just a few of the thousands of product-related items we have advertised for Dick Blick Art Materials alone. We rely on CJ's advanced tracking features to measure ROI for individual keyword listings, but this does _not_ mean we are running an incentive program.

    I find it disturbing that we are being threatened with non-payment and account closure over an accusation that is entirely unfounded.

  2. #2
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I don't know your site so I can't comment on the software application, but from the keywords you provided, it looks like you are just doing a direct click to the merchant's site from the google adwords.

    What I find astonishing (ok..not really) is that CJ is sending out these types of notices from Compliance. Yet how many COC violation reports have they received regarding WhenU? No question at all what is going on with WhenU. And yet, CJ just sweeps those complaints under the table. They will not say what is being done regarding the violations. WhenU continues to pop up on other affiliates sites (a clear violation of the COC). They continue to change their interpretation of their own COC so that WhenU can be in compliance.

    Oh yeah...this really looks like fair business practices to me. The treatment of all affiliates in an equatable fashion. I sure hope CJ wakes up and opens their eyes before someone does it for them.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  3. #3
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    They are probably just trying to show that their compliance team is doing something. Next month, Todd will probably report that they eliminated hundreds of CoC violators.

  4. #4
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    Tihan,

    Here are my thoughts. Because you primarily drive through PPC, you will have very low impression counts compared to high click counts. This is very similar to the situation when the traffic is driven through non-complaint software (a.k.a. parasite) because they overwrite someone else's link without any impression. If you have huge PPC driven traffic and less from traditional web site, impression vs click ratio would probably raise red flag in CJ complaince.

    Contact CJ complain by phone, explain them your situation. I hope it will be fixed.

    On the other note, I feel a little better because CJ's compliance is at least working.

  5. #5
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    CJ is funny. I called them regarding the notification to merchants that your program offers incentives to find out if I would have sales tracked while I was waiting for all of my merchants to decide approve me or not.

    I decided it was better to not check the box after not getting a good clear answer from CJ.

    I'll probably get into some trouble down the road but meanwhile I can't afford to not get paid for any transactions.

  6. #6
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    With no hint of an apology, CJ goes on to accuse us of running a secret plug-in since their referrer data shows mainly our tracking software IP address.

    I have been unable to reply to their accusations all morning . Everytime I attempt to 'Update' this particular issue in their support site, I get an error that the question is locked. Replying to the issue notice emails results in a rejected reply and I can find no support phone number that reaches anyone who knows anything about this.

    CJ, if you are reading this...

    The IP address you refer to is a TRACKING MECHANISM. It points to custom software that gives us the information we need in order to determine when we are making or losing money on _paid advertisments_. It has nothing at all to do with a plug-in or any kind of client application.

    Since we are being threatening with non-payment and there has been no way to communicate, I've had no choice but to have all CJ merchant advertising turned off.

    I have been trying to be cooperative but I am shocked by the continued accusations and threats. Is this how CJ treats all their best affiliates? We have been engaged only in legitmate affiliate marketing that complies with all terms of the CJ COC.

    I urge CJ to retract the threats of non-payment and account closure.

    In the meantime, our CJ merchant partners are losing out on thousands of dollars in revenue per day. If this issue is not resolved before tomorrow, I intend to make sure they all know the reason why.

  7. #7
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    Depending on the merchant, there are restrictions on what keywords you can use and how you them. I can't specifically comment on Tihan's situation, but there very well could be facts not being explained in the email exchange.

    I've personally had to discuss "problems" identified by CJ with one of my merchants. CJ was not very clear on what steps were needed to be in full compliance, but to be fair, it took a few messages back and forth with merchant to get a clear black and white line drawn.

    This is not to place the blame on either CJ or Tihan, but IMO, all of the facts are not being presented. My advice to Tihan and anyone else with a similar problem is try find out the merchant agreements that are specifically accused of being violated and start a discussion directly with the merchant.

  8. #8
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    Believe me, I would so much have prefered to work this out with CJ privately.

    I can be the only one here who knows there was no wrong-doing on our end. But no matter what your guess, I think its fair to say that CJ has handled the situation badly.

    Hostile threats to affiliates based on mere hunches is not the right way to repair a reputation for supporting leechware.

    In our case, they haven't indicated any violations of specfic merchant agreements. They just insist we're running a plug-in somehow. The only way to work it out with the merchants is to send all of them an email explaining why they're not getting sales from us any more. This will be my next step.

    [This message was edited by Tihan on July 11, 2003 at 04:27 PM.]

  9. #9
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    Strange.

  10. #10
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    Let's see.. it looks like you're taking data feeds from different merchants and providing a front-end query tool for them?

    Looks pretty clever to me, and legitimate, and there's no sign at all of anything fishy with savingsfinder.com from my pretty cursory look around.

    I guess as KCEdit says, the stats looks odd because you're missing the 1x1 tracking bug. Maybe you could adapt the software to display the bug?

    ________
    All your commission are belong to us.
    Check out the latest Homeland Security press releases.

  11. #11
    The affiliate formerly known as ojmoo
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    1x1 tracking bug. You know I remove them now when I find them. I couldn't care less about the impressions, all I care about is sales (and maybe clicks). I usually create my own preoduct links, and the 1x1 get in the way, you change something, but you still have this impression thing that takes forever to find. For all I care, they can take their 1x1 tracking links and keep them to theirself.

    Mike
    Bovine Bazaar

  12. #12
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Tihan,

    Feel free to email me or call me for any possible assistance I may offer ... my whois info is correct.

    Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli


  13. #13
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    God this conversation sounds so familiar. In another forum we were informed of Befree doing the same thing to an affiliate for using a particular software. It seemed to me that this software was a good auditng tool, targeting tool for affiliates to adapt thier website content and place the right kind of merchant with the right kind of traffic. When the numbers came rolling in, the merchants cried foul. The conclusion was that the affilaite had the numbers, the merchant tried to under report, the stuff hit the fan and thats when they said hold on, time for this affiliate to go. I called it the phantom study and so far it seems that anything that shows you true results in an auditing fashion you are "inflating traffic".

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Jane's Avatar
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    If a merchant only pays per sale, why would they care how much traffic you send?

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Vrindavan's Avatar
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    quote:
    Here are my thoughts. Because you primarily drive through PPC, you will have very low impression counts compared to high click counts. This is very similar to the situation when the traffic is driven through non-complaint software (a.k.a. parasite) because they overwrite someone else's link without any impression. If you have huge PPC driven traffic and less from traditional web site, impression vs click ratio would probably raise red flag in CJ complaince.


    Many many webmasters do not use impression tracking codes on their sites and emails, etc.

    i do not think this should be the problem.

    impression is for unreliable statistics, not for actual sales.

    http://8n.nu/

  16. #16
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    If we receive any additional complaints regarding your account violating the Publisher Service Agreement you will be terminated from the network"

    What particular merchants are making these complaints? If you are so bold, you can at least give everyone but your best hunch who these merchants are. Can you do that?

    "Specifically, answer yes to the incentive question and then provide a detailed description of all your traffic driving methods."

    You are actually being accused of luring and misleading visitors into clicking CJ merchant links.

    Incentive means you are promising the visitors something outside or beyond what the merchants are offering visitors.

    Always make sure that what you are offering the visitor is in line with what merchants are offering such visitor...

    If you are offering something additional or apart from that, you can hardly make that proper distinction in a single search engine adwordtisement.

    Should the merchants be glad with 75K in sales? Yes, but if they feel visitors are looking specifically for them but being distracted to click your link over theirs by a improper incentive, they might not see the situation as gain.

    The Gestapo compliance department is responding to complaints. If you have no idea who those complaints are coming from, or are not willing to disclose such information, what do you realistically expect from this thread?

  17. #17
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    It's about time some action is being taken again by CJ to identify the "tricks for Clicks" affiliates from those who rely strictly on placing audit-able HTML links on their own domain pages. Back when I was webmaster for 3 CJ merchant's all "incented" traffic had to get explicit merchant approval in writing before any payments were made.

    The Fred Conquest types coupled with the CPC scripting cheaters forced CJ into that move well before parasites and even PPCSE's. That is why I called for ALL networks in the Nov 7th meeting to fully disclose to the merchant AM's if an affiliate was an "incenter", uses BHO's or manipulated traffic at the SE entry level. Likewise I called for ALL those given merchant status to show in their profiles they used a variety of diversion tactics or were themselves just affiliates posing as merchants.

    So this guy fell into the gray area pushing an angle, not involving audit-able or viewable domain traffic, that he snuck into some merchant's program. Scared the crap out of the merchants looking at unreal conversion ratios. Could those merchants viewing his site yelled fowl and asked CJ to dig deeper? Who knows? In this case at least it shows CJ is alert -monitoring their network & affiliates for CoC violations and is taking some action to set a precedence. Maybe the next logical step is to shut off the "incent" autofeeds to some NETorious BHO's and Ban them from swimming in their commission pool. I'm all for anything that doesn't negate the voice or stats of normal domain bound affiliates doing the pre-sales job to target traffic to worthy merchants.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  18. #18
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    From the Publisher Service Agreement:

    "You must place Links to the Advertiser's Web site or Web site content such that it is unlikely that the Links will mislead the Visitor, and such that it is reasonably likely that the Links will deliver bona fide Transactions by the Visitor to Advertiser from the Link."

    "None of Your promotional activities may infringe an Advertiser's intellectual property rights (including but not limited to trademark rights), intellectual property rights of a competitor of an Advertiser, or CJ's intellectual property rights."

    "You shall not cause any Transactions to be made that are not in good faith, including, but not limited to, using any device, program, robot, Iframes, hidden frames, redirects or clicking on Links that You place to the Advertiser."

    "You shall not establish or cause to be established any promotion that provides any rewards, points or compensation for Transactions, or that allows third parties ("Sub-Publishers") to place an Advertiser's Links on its Web site or in its emails, unless You receive the Advertiser's prior written permission, upon notification to and verification by CJ."

  19. #19
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    Umm, I don't know Tihan, but, he claims he does not offer any incentives, and, he has provided his URL, apparently.

    Before you go cheering on the CJ "Gestapo", check if some of the usual suspects have been terminated, or, if its BUA...

    ----
    -JM

  20. #20
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    The first warning in the email Tihan received was "you are being warned for inflating traffic "...
    Does anyone know what does it mean?

  21. #21
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    Tihan, on your savings finder site you have for example an oreck banner that goes to page on your site that redirects to the CJ link for Oreck.

    Page Example similar:

    quote:

    -html-
    -head-
    -meta HTTP-EQUIV="REFRESH" CONTENT="1;URL='http://www.qksrv,net/click-xxx"-
    -title-&nbsp-/title-
    -/head--body-
    -script LANGUAGE="javascript"-
    location.replace('http://www.qksrv,net/click-xxx);
    -/SCRIPT-
    -/body--/html-



    Maybe you can explain why you feel a need to do things like that, and if you feel this could be part of what is meant as inflating traffic.

    This is the strangest thread I've come across in some time. I can't say I believe your posted response from CJ is real.

    Further, your posted search engine words you say you bid on...where are you? Are you then the owner of Nextag? What's the deal with that?

    I saw your last name in whois for your site. Are you the famous game inventer? LOL

    The whole thing is quite hard to swallow.

  22. #22
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Sure wish CJ and the others would wack those phoney Antipopup scumbags who spamm via XP's messenger "Net Send" service. Doing a new XP system setup for a client and on cable modelm. Every 5 minutes some carbob copy 3rd world scammers popups up similar domains warning me of system vulnerabilities overcome by the program. Drive-by or bundled BHO parasites/spyware here we come and they all are run by hidden affiliates.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  23. #23
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    Guys, I'm glad you're fired up about stopping the tricks-for-clicks problem. But the entire issue here is that we are completely innocent of this.

    Again, I am the only one here that can be so positive. You all must make your own guess (but would I be starting a public inquiry if I had anything to hide?)

    Much of the text of CJ's words were pulled right out of their grab bag of complaince department replies. I don't see how they ever could have received a complaint. This is just what their template reply-software offered up.

    The lack of personal attention to this matter on their part is what really p*sses me off. They have my phone number! If they are going to threaten withold thosands of dollars over a misunderstanding, they should at least have the courtesy to call! Instead I get 2 sentences of hand crafted reply and 4 pages of autoresponse.

  24. #24
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    You are in the USA, why not just call them?

    I always thought that auto-redirecting like you do was against the terms since the link does not exist on your page. If that is the ***** they have with you, it is a valid *****.

    So why don't you call them before posting here? I find that puzzling.

    Chet

  25. #25
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    I'm going to leave it at this:

    Here is our website: http://www.savingsfinder.com

    (We also do a lot of PPC which I have turned OFF because I'm being threatened with non-payment.)

    Feel free to make your own conclusions, right or wrong.

    The main reason I posted the interaction with CJ is because I thought you all would benefit knowing that this is going on.

    If you're next, then at least you will know you're not the only one.

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